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WordPress.com or WordPress.org? Which One’s Right for You?

This guest post is by Matt Hooper.

When you first start looking at building your own blog, you are going to be inundated by the different options that are out there. After considering all your options, hopefully you’ll come to your senses and realize that WordPress is your best option.

As a reward for all this deliberating you are now presented with one more decision. Do you choose .org or .com? And we’re not talking about your domain name. You, along with many others, might be surprised to find out that there are actually two different kinds of WordPress.

WordPress.com is a version of WordPress that is hosted by Automattic, the development team behind WordPress. WordPress.org is often referred to the self-hosted version of WordPress. The two are very similar but there are a few differences that you need to be aware of before you finally get down to work on your blog.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the safest way to go, as there are a lot of mechanisms in place to make sure that you don’t accidentally break it or prevent it from working the way it was intended to.

This means that it is nearly impossible for a beginner to render their site unusable. It also means that you are unable to really make use of some of the more advanced, and fun, features of WordPress. I’ll get to those below, but let’s take a closer look at what WordPress.com has to offer first.

The biggest selling feature of WordPress.com is the fact that everything is free and easy to use. You can head over there right now, sign up for a free account, and be blogging before you know it. You won’t even need to invest in a domain name if you don’t want to. Without any expense, you are able to have a website of your own at a domain like yourname.wordpress.com.

That’s right: you don’t even have to purchase a domain name to get started. However, going from a yourname.wordpress.com domain to yourname.com in the future is going to hurt your search engine rankings. This is something that you might want to consider before going the totally free route.

In the event that you are even remotely serious about creating a blog, you’re best to start off with your own domain. You can have your own domain name at WordPress.com for an extra $12 per year plus the cost of the domain itself.

On November 29, 2011 WordPress announced WordAds. Only WordPress.com hosted sites with custom domains and “moderate to high traffic and appropriate content” are eligible to apply for the WordAds program. WordAds appears to be a viable monetizing option for WordPress hosted sites that have established audiences. This does not appear to be an option for new WordPress.com sites.

The barrier to entry is extremely low here so it can be very appealing to the less technically inclined. For hobbyists or people interested in just kicking the tires, WordPress.com is a good starting point. However, if you are at all serious about moving forward with your blog, you’re going to quickly run into the limitations of WordPress.com.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org is the version of WordPress that you have to host yourself. This means that if you use wordpress.org, you have to go out and find a web hosting company to host your blog. This may result in you having to paying for services before you even hit Publish on your fist post.

The good thing is that some hosting companies may give you a short grace period to try out their service before you get your first bill. Then, after you get going, you’ll be looking at a cost of anywhere from a $5 to $10 per month for a shared host.

You’ll also have to buy your own domain to use with your blog—you won’t even have the option not to. Again, some hosts will give you one domain for free when you signup. This also means that you can add additional domains for just the cost of the domain, since you already have the host.

After you have decided on a shared host of your choice, you are going to have to install WordPress in your hosting account. Don’t fret: most shared hosts worth using will have a “one-click install” for WordPress, so it’s not too complicated to get WordPress installed. In the event that you do have any problems, most good shared hosts will help you out.

Once this has been completed, you will have free rein to do whatever you wish with your shiny new WordPress installation. This also means that you get access to two of the best features of WordPress that I alluded to above: plugins and custom themes.

Themes are what control the look and feel of your blog, colours, layouts, fonts, etc. Yes, it’s true that you are able to pick a theme while using WordPress.com but there is a limited selection and you are not able to do much customization to the theme itself. If you know your way around CSS, you can pay an additional $30 per year to have the ability to modify the CSS.

Even if you get to the CSS of your WordPress.com site, you still have a limited selection of themes to choose from. At least with WordPress.org, you have the choice of using the same out-of-the-box free themes as on WordPress.com or to pay a bit extra for a premium or custom theme.

But the killer feature of WordPress.org has got to be the ability to add plugins, which are not available with WordPress.com. Plugins are add-ons that expand the core functionality of WordPress. As an example, if you want to be able to scan your entire site to make sure there are no broken links, there is a plugin for that. There are countless other plugins for WordPress that will:

  • compress images
  • enhance SEO
  • create contact forms
  • lightbox images
  • and much, much more!

Initially, having FTP access to your blog might not matter to you, but as you grow into your blog, you might want to have the ability to modify and move files around on your web host’s server. This is something that you get with a self-hosted site running WordPress, that you can’t ever get with a WordPress.com blog.

Probably the most important feature of using WordPress.org is you get to make money with your blog. You’re free to use anything from Adsense to affiliate promotions. You’ll even have the option of creating and selling your own products through your site. And if the need arises, you can turn a WordPress.org site into a full-blown ecommerce solution.

That said, it’s not all roses with a self-hosted blog. There are two major things missing with WordPress.org that you get with WordPress.com: backups and protection from extreme traffic spikes.

There aren’t many safety nets with a self-hosted site, so make sure you back it up often. WordPress.com takes care of this for you. A good web host usually performs regular backups, but most will tell you that they don’t guarantee anything. So whatever you do, make sure that you perform your own WordPress backups frequently.

In the event that your blog does get popular overnight, it could buckle under the added traffic. Don’t worry: the stability of your site can be beefed up through the use of a good caching plugin, like W3 total cache. Also, it isn’t too difficult to upgrade your hosting at some point in the future when your site starts getting massive traffic. This would be a good problem to have!

Wrapping it up

I have to admit that after being so accustomed to the flexibility of WordPress.org, I would have a hard time being happy with a WordPress.com blog. If you have any aspirations of taking your blog past the hobby stage, you should just start out with a self-hosted site.

It is possible to move a WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site later on. However, presuming that you might consider starting with a WordPress.com site and moving to a self-hosted site later on, you’re best to just start out with a self-hosted site.

That said, if you are comfortable living within the limitations of WordPress.com, and you want to never have to deal with the technical details of a blog, then a WordPress.com hosted blog might be all that you need.

WordPress.com is great if you are looking to keep an online journal or for small clubs and the like. Due to the fact that you are reading this site, I expect you’re interested in making a business out of your blog. On that note, at some point in the future you will end up with a WordPress.org website. Save yourself the fuss and the hassle of trying to transition your site later on. You’ll be happy you did.

The initially-free option of WordPress.com could actually result in higher costs down the road. After you start piling on extra fees for a custom domain, ad removal, extra storage space (you only get 3GBs to start), plus the ability to use custom CSS in your blog design, you really aren’t saving much, if any, money on WordPress.com, and you have to deal with its limitations.

Finally, and this is a big “finally”, you don’t own a WordPress.com website. After you’ve spent all that time to build a blog and an audience, do you really want to wake up one morning and find out that WordPress.com didn’t like your site so they deleted it? There isn’t a strong chance of this happening, but you should be aware that it could.

Have you been trying to decide between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? What challenges are you facing?

Matthew Hooper helps individuals, small businesses and organizations build an internet presence. You can get his free guide on building an internet presence or check out his online WordPress course full of step-by-step videos so that you can learn WordPress in a single weekend.

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Comments

  1. Honestly, WP.org isn’t anywhere near as difficult to handle as people make it out to be. There’s plenty of plugins to help you back up your stuff, and you can also simply export your database as well.

    I like to view WP.com as the training wheels for your own WP.org blog. You get to learn the basics and have some say in how your blog appears, but eventually, you’re going to want something greater. Then again, perhaps some people just want to blog for the sake of blogging, and have no wish to be an expert or monetize their content. That’s perfectly fine, but again, it’s not that much harder to step up to WP.org.

    • Hi James,

      You’re right. The self-hosted version is just as easy to use as the .com version. I think people get a little nervous about the hosting side of it and then .com is an easy option.

      I feel that even if you’re not looking to monetize, self-hosted is much better just for the flexibility.

      - Matt

  2. Samantha says:

    I really like wordpress.org. Even though it’s a little daunting having to deal with hosting and all the one-off issues of being on your own, it’s really not that difficult for newbies. My only issue with it is time. When I had blogs in the .org format, it was a lot more time consuming to maintain.

    While I like wordpress.com, you can’t monetize it and paying out of pocket to remove ads makes little sense when you can get a Blogger blog for free that you can monetize (at least from my perspective).

    I’m not really in blogging for the money and I have a lot to learn about how to be a better blogger, but, at the basic core of the business side of my brain, I can’t wrap my head around the sense in using WP.com.

    I would recommend that if you have the time to actually develop and maintain a WP.org site, it’s the best avenue out there for newbie bloggers. But, and this goes back to the basic Blogger v WP debate, if you don’t have the time, and if you don’t mind the restrictions that go along with developing on Blogger, I’d opt for Blogger. Just my opinion.

    • Hi Samantha,

      You are probably right that Blogger is a good choice for a newbie blogger that doesn’t want to have to deal with any of the technical aspects of it. However, you have very limited options with Blogger if you ever look at expanding. Like you said, this gets down to the old Blogger vs WP debate. It is mostly up to the individual to research all options before getting started.

      - Matt

  3. Joseph says:

    Hi Mathew, I had about Two WordPress.com blog in my early days of blogging but I didnt invest much into because they dont allow ads while blogger.com do, so I switched to blogger but now am a big fan of WordPress.org, because of the endless posibilities with it.
    I will say wordpress.org is the way to go, even if you want to blog for fun.

    • Matt Hooper says:

      Hi Joseph,

      I think you’re a lot like other people when you started. Blogger or WordPress.com look like an easy way to get started but you soon find that WordPress.org gives you a lot more possibilities.

      - Matt

    • javaflow says:

      I agree my friend, at first we know of a blog wordpress blogs are difficult, but when to know more, to love and never left except for the blogger that much sweeter to say goodbye

  4. Ben Norman says:

    One point in favour of wordpress.com which I think should be noted is that blog ecosystem which comes with it. All posts you write are entered into the system which highlights new posts in set niches to other writers and readers and it seems to work well for getting those hard to find initial readers.

    Having said that I’m completely in favour or the .org variant because of the customisation opportunities but it’s definitely something to consider.

    • I think the great part about the .com is how great is is with SEO. I started with that and moved to .org which has wonderful customisation, like you rightly pointed out Ben.

      • Hi Sharon,

        WP.com does give you a lot of SEO benefits. Again it comes down to what you really need the site to do for you. There are always trade-offs.

        - Matt

    • Hi Ben,

      That is true. WordPress.com does give you a chance to be discovered. Since it is very hard to find initial readers, this could be valuable to some.

      - Matt

  5. Carlos Ramos says:

    I started immediately with WordPress.org. However, I am someone who likes to mess with the code and break stuff. However, for anything that you want extra at WordPress.com, it costs you. If you need many things enabled, you end up paying more at WordPress.com than with your self hosted WordPress.org.

    So, I agree with Joseph: WordPress.org is the best way to go.

    One free alternative is to self host your WordPress site under free hosting services such as 000webhost or others.

    • Matt Hooper says:

      Hi Carlos,

      The one thing to be careful of when going with a free web host is the limitations imposed by them. You are best off to find a host that is WordPress friendly from the start and avoid the hassle of moving the site latter on.

      - Matt

      • Carlos Ramos says:

        Can’t help to agree on that too: A free hosting has limitations in the bandwidth per month, space in disk you can use (which, if using a lot of media, can pretty much scale up fast), and also in other aspects. Sooner or later, both in WordPress.com or WordPress.org with free web hosting, the solution has to involve money: a paid hosting service which is reliable and gives you the freedom to do as you like.

        • Hi Carlos,

          It’s like the saying goes, “Pay now, or pay later.” Either way, if you want to take it serious, you’ll end up paying something.

          - Matt

  6. I definitely agree that it’d be frustrating to try to use a wordpress.com blog after having experienced wordpress.org. It’s just not the same.

    • Hi Jacob, (Great name, my son was born yesterday and we named him Jakob)

      WP.com has limitations and you really feel them when you go back from WP.org.

      - Matt

  7. This is a conversation that’s going on in one of my forums. I’m using the WordPress platform (self hosted) and I love it. Someone commented that a new blogger shouldn’t use the self hosted platform and my knee jerk reaction was – THAT’S WRONG! – but I kept reading and they made a lot of the same points you listed here. It’s important that a new blogger really weigh their options and go the route that is best for them. I’m curious to know how many bloggers pay for hosting, a theme, and premium plug ins only to bag their blog 6 months later.

    • Hi Kimberly,

      Research is important and it’s also important to discover if you are really determined to make it work. The mistake a lot of people make is that they think that they are going to run out and pay for host, a theme and a bunch of “magic” plugins. Then discover that the ads they slapped all over their site aren’t even going to pay for the hosting. Before deciding on either .org or .com you have to really research all options before jumping in head first.

      - Matt

  8. Gavrilo says:

    I don’t see how WordPress is the best option when the author himself exposes one of it’s greatest pitfalls (for WordPress.com): no control over ads, which you don’t profit from, and no other form of monetizing allowed. On the other hand, Blogger even has native support for Adsense. So there is absolutely no advantage of getting WordPress.com over Blogger, at least not from what I’ve experienced and what is written in this article.

    • Hi Gavrillo,

      I agree but if your end goal is to learn how to use WordPress then WP.com is a good stepping stone (albeit one that can be skipped). If your goal is to have a free blog that you can monetize then Blogger might be a better option.

      - Matt

  9. I have used .Org since 2006, wouldn’t be able to use .com now with all the limitations.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Very informative article. So funny, it was only today that I learned that there was both a WordPress.com and .org site. This article lays out the differences nicely. I started with .org from the start, and think it’s definitely the way to go if you want to get serious about your blogging.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I’m glad you liked the article. It’s a good thing that you didn’t do what a lot of people do and accidentally get started with WP.com and then find out that WP.org exists and it’s the one that they really wanted. Then they have to go through the process of moving.

      - Matt

  11. Todd Lohenry says:

    Hmmm. Seems you forgot to mention one important feature that wordpress.com is missing. WordPress.com won’t allow users to use javascript or iframes either. If you can’t do it with hmtl or wordpress shortcodes, you’re not allowed to do it!

  12. Ken A says:

    Like you said WordPress.com is great for beginners, but once you learn a thing or two about hosting your own sites, you should never waste time developing sites that someone else hosts. Anything you write and put on the web is too value to trust to a 3rd party.

    Trust me. I’ve had sites on Blogger just disappear, and it sucks.

    • Hi Ken,

      Very true. Never trust third parties, especially when you’re not paying them for it. Web hosts have been know to loose data from time to time as well. This is why it is important to always backup your sites. This is a lot easier to do on sites that you have absolute control over.

      - Matt

  13. Charul Shukla says:

    Thanks matt for covering some good point in the article, however i feel as you also mentioned that going with self hosted version of wordpress cost some bucks from the pocket. Now this is where whole game is changed, in my opinion planning and budgeting for a self hosted blog is a complete exercise in itself.

    There are plenty of themes available, so as the case with plugins. It’s quite confusing for newbies to select right set of tools and options in a tight budget.

    I agree that all of that is way beyond the scope of a single article, infect it could be a subject of a multipart series. maybe in future you like to cover such things or if i get more encouragement, will start a blog and write a 10-12 part series on this subject only (currently facing writers block called lazyness).

    Would love to read more from you on your blog and here as well.

    :)

    • Hi Charul,

      Thanks for the encouragement. I do write partly about this subject on my own site (as well as instruct clients) and hopefully there is also a possibility of writing more about it here as well.

      The thing about a self-hosted blog is that it is probably easier to budget for. I find that with the restrictions on WP.com, you start to get a bit “nickel-and-dimed” for things unexpectingly. Meaning that a lot of newbies look at WP.com as the free alternative and then when they start to want more control it’s a bit more here and a bit more here which can get costly.

      - Matt

  14. I started out on WordPress.com so I couldn’t do what I love doing which is playing around with stuff – I was forced to focus on content creation. While I was there I did contact the support team and asked if they support sales of your own product and they do – so if you create something, be it an eBook or something in your Etsy store, you are allowed to sell it on your website providing said site is a “blog with real content”.

    I definitely agree with Matt about being careful with free hosts, I tried one a while ago for curiousity and the first thing I had to do was install WordPress manually – not a problem but I quit it right then, it was going to take 1.5 hours to upload WordPress!

    Matt – you mentioned in the post that WordPress can delete your blog, it’s a good reminder that you should back up your blog on a regular basis. Doing the content once a week takes less than a minute manually.

    • Hi Rosemary,

      Good point about WP.com being a virtual set of blinders. It does force you to just create content.

      It is possible to sell your own products but you’re not allowed to promote products that use affiliate programs like ClickBank. I’m not sure if this means that you can’t sell one of your own products through the ClickBank system (or similar). My point more specifically was that WordPress has a list of things that you can and can’t do. Most of the common methods for adding advertising or promoting affiliate products are off the list. Since a lot of new bloggers attempt to monetize their sites through ads and affiliate products, WP.com is not even an option.

      It is good to point out that if you want to promote your Etsy store or other similar marketplace store, then WP.com could be a good option.

      Thanks again for mentioning it, since I don’t think you can say it enough. Backup, backup, backup!

      - Matt

  15. WordPress.org helps you with flexibility Matthew. Great points here.

    I’ve tried both and am sticking with .org, as it gives me more functionality.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  16. G20Clix PTC says:

    Hey.
    I recommend using wordpress on a hosting fee, there hostgator hosting Low As $3.99 per month …

    if the problem is money then there are other options from $0.5 per month, enough to start…

    To learn how to earn $ 3.99 or more every month visit my blog …

    • Hi G20Clix PTC,

      You are correct that you can go with cheaper hosing solutions. Just make sure that they have options to upgrade to a higher end hosting package or at least be prepared to move to a better host in the future. Very low end hosting can bring its own headaches. Make sure to research all options before deciding to save $1 or $2 every month.

      - Matt

  17. Liane says:

    This is a bit of a for noobs WP article right? Anyway, I’d condense it in one simple tip. If you want to run a personal blog and don’t care about monetizing, go for the .com. Else, proceed to .org :D

    • Hi Liane,

      You are 100% correct that this article is for new WP users. Your condensed version is correct but it’s still nice to know the reasons behind each option. especially for beginners.

      - Matt

  18. Stamps says:

    WordPress.com is free and much easier to set up.and your blog is automatically back u.

  19. i’m on wordpress.com :)
    regards

  20. abliuhk says:

    WordPress.com Is more Right Instead of WordPress.org.

  21. Nice post.Thanks for your article.

  22. Mark says:

    Hi Matt,
    thanks for your fascinating article. Actually, I am using wordpress.com and was thinking about moving to wp.org. Now, that I read your post

  23. Mark says:

    … I am conviced its the right step.
    What would be the best way to move from COM to ORG in your experience?

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      I guess I should have read this comment before answering the previous.

      Your question could be a complete article all on it’s own. Briefly here are the steps,

      1. Export your site content from under the tools menu.
      2. You can’t export your theme so make a note of which theme you are using and all of your custom settings (i.e. backgrounds, colours, etc.)
      3. Make note of how your widgets are setup. They also can’t be exported. I like to take screenshots since it helps my memory.
      4. Signup for hosting.
      5. Redirect your name servers to your new host.
      6. Install WordPress.
      7. Import your content.
      8. Reinstall your theme.
      9. Re-configure your widgets.
      10. Create backups.

      After you have your new site, make sure to delete your old WordPress.com account. When you redirect your name servers, you will endup with a WordPress account like yourname,wordpress.com with all of your content on it. This means that your content will exist in two different places, search engines don’t like this too much.

      That’s a brief overview. I hope it helps.

      - Matt

  24. For raw starters, wordpress.com is a place to familiarize oneself with the platform. I started with this and eventually moved to dot org. WordPress is a perfect platform for people who are not tech savvy. Now that I’m self-hosting, I don’t even use my self-host panel for anything as i use the wordpress platform – very easily :)

    • Hi Pinoy,

      I’m glad you said that. A lot of people worry that they will have to spend a lit of time managing their hosting. I’m glad that you said that you never touch it. It’s testament that a self-hosted site is just as easy as a free WP.com account.

      - Matt

    • nikita says:

      Hi Pinoy,

      How did you handle loosing the connection with your .com followers and likers?

  25. Marc Connor says:

    I completely agree.

    One thing however, WordPress.com is good for your WordPress.org’s SEO purposes. Just post a nice, keyword-rich, blog article or articles on your WordPress.com site that refer to your WordPress.org’s domain and you get some nice SEO juice from WordPress.com

    It has it’s purposes.

  26. Debi Walter says:

    Hey Matt,
    I am so glad you have shared your knowledge about this. We have been operating a wordpress.com blog for a little over three years and have felt the limitations. We have tweaked it as much as we can, but after attending two wordcamps (San Diego and Orlando) we are leaning towards a .org site. But since I’m not very technical, I’m afraid I won’t be able to get the support I need if I mess something up. So, I have a few questions:
    How difficult is it to transfer 3 years worth of posts to the new site?
    Will it affect my search engine status?
    Will it change to format of my blog right away, or just as I choose to change it?
    Is it easy to learn yourself or should I consider a class or two? If so, where would I find those classes to walk me through the change?
    Domain.com is where we purchased our domain name. Would they host the site? Or do I need to go to another place to find hosting services?
    I’m so grateful you’ve opened the door to understanding this mountain for me. We really would like to change, but I can’t afford to lose what I already have. Thanks for you help and any direction you can offer.
    Debi

    • Hi Debi,

      Mark asked a similar question so you might want to take a look at my answer above.

      In addition to above:
      Since you are already using your own domain then it is just a case of exporting your content and rebuilding the site as I described above. Then redirect your name servers. I just took a look and it looks like Domain.com offers hosting and they should be able to host your WordPress site. I have never used them before so I can’t really say if they are a good host or not.

      Whenever you do any major site restructuring there is always a ripple in your search rankings. If you rebuild the structure and content exactly the way it was before, then you rankings should level out to approximately where they were before. You will also have more control over your on page ranking factors so you might even be able to improve on your original rankings.

      If you are technically capable then you should be able to handle it yourself. I don’t know of any course that teaches how to move from a .com to a self-hosted site. Hosting is pretty simple to setup but if you have any problems with it, feel free to contact me directly. (I won’t post my email address here since I’m not sure how the ProBlogger team may feel about that but a link to my website is at the end of the article above.) After the hosting is setup, using a self-hosted WordPress install is almost identical to WP.com.

      - Matt

  27. Sharif says:

    wordpress.com is good platform for beginner.But I don’t like and maybe most of the people doesn’t like sub-domain which is wordpress.com gives free.Though I’ve started with .com and now has been shifted to .org

    I also agree with Joseph “WordPress.org is the best way to go”.

    • Hi Sharif,

      Your right that WP.com only offers you a free subdomain. (yourname.wordpress.com) So you will need to at least buy your own domain to have yourname.com which is what most people prefer. I also recommend do this since it is easier to move to a self-hosted site in the future.

      - Matt

  28. I think WordPress(self hosted) is the best blogging platform and i use wordpress on my blog site.I love it very much.

  29. Ferb says:

    I would choose WordPress dot org because of the functionality. I can fully control my blog and being able to access to everything. I believed I get what I pay for and use less others free stuff. So I really recommenced “WordPress dot org” is the right choice for everyone.

  30. Every one of my blogs is a self-hosted version of WordPress running the Genesis framework. It is super easy to set up! I love not being under the confines of certain rules (especially pertaining to adsense) when using a blog on wordpress.com

    • Hi Erin,

      It’s great that you have found a system that works for you. Finding a theme that you are comfortable with is easier with a self-hosted site.

      - Matt

  31. One correction – you mention that WordPress.com doesn’t allow ads. They don’t allow third-party ads, but they recently implemented their own advertising platform called WordAds which WordPress.com users can put on their sites.

    WordPress.com is a great way for people to get their feet wet in the world of WordPress blogging and site management, since if they start to feel limited, they can easily export their content and import it into a self-hosted WordPress.org site, and not lose traffic since the URLs will stay the same (assuming they mapped a custom domain on to their WordPress.com site – which they should!).

    • Hi Miriam,

      This article is directed at new WordPress users and WordAds isn’t an option for them. WordAds are limited to sites with “moderate to high” traffic.

      Also, I did get the email from Automattic but I am a little slow at responding since my wife gave birth to our son on the same day this article was published.

      - Matt

  32. I think wordpress.com is for a typical blogger who just want to blog some stuff. While if you want to build a website for your business and wants to buy a domain name then go for wordpress.org. Whatever you picked, wordpress is the site to be when it comes to blogging!

    • Hi Dexter,

      I would agree with you that a self-hosted site is better suited to those that want to use their sites for business.

      - Matt

  33. Mike says:

    I prefer the WordPress.org stuff. I’ve gotten to the point where I can do edits and not totally render my site worthless. It takes a little bit of practice but I think doing the self-hosted route is definitely the best option long term for any person seeking to grow this into something bigger.

    • Hi Mike,

      The downside of WP.org is that there are no safety nets so it is possible to render your site useless if you change something. This is yet another reason backups are important!

      - Matt

  34. Thanks for this post. I’ve Tweeted this out by the way. I came across WordPress.org by accident 3 years ago and haven’t looked back. I started with the .com version, but did find it very limiting,but it’s a good starting place. I will post a link to this blog post on my Fan Page.

  35. Noelle says:

    I use Blogger, which is what I’ve used for the past 3 years. I was on wordpress.org for 3 years before I switched, but I had to reinstall it like 20 times in the last year of using it. It wouldn’t let me change my password, and since it used to give you a completely random password that was never easy to remember, I kept losing them. I also had it break on me a lot, the kind of breaking where even after I deleted whatever I added to cause it to break, it would still have errors. After that, I decided to switch to blogger, and I don’t ever intend to use wordpress again.

  36. Hayley says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you so much for such a detailed and informing article! I’m currently a WordPress.com blog and am looking to switch over to the .org side of things, mainly for ads for my baking website. How easy is the switch once I’ve been with the .com for over a year–with over 200 posts–now?

    Thank you!

    Hayley Parker

  37. Jessie says:

    Thank you SO much for this article. I have had my wordpress.com blog since september, and was confused about why I couldn’t add plugins when I saw other people using them. My fees are also starting to build up, and I find it kind of annoying that I would have to pay to remove ads (and that it’s so difficult to use ads myself). I just realized tonight that wordpress.org exists and the world makes so much more sense now! This post was very helpful in explaining the difference.

    I do have a question – do you think it’s worth the $129 to pay for a WordPress engineer to make the switch, or should I just plunge in on my own? I have limited experience with html but could probably muddle my way through…

  38. nikita says:

    Hi!

    Thanks for the article! What I’m struggeling with now, I have been building followers on wp.com, gathering likes and all. But with my .org website I loose them?! Can I benefit from the .com community with the .org blog?

    I hope you can help me :)

  39. Matt, you’ve laid this out as clearly as an other article I’ve read. I agree 100% with all your points. I am a loyal WordPress.org user, but I totally see that there are some ideal candidates for WordPress.com.

    Thanks so much.